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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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THE old man was uptown again before breakfast, but couldn’t get no track of Tom; and both of them set at the table thinking, and not saying nothing, and looking mournful, and their coffee getting cold, and not eating anything. And by and by the old man says: The old man went back into town before breakfast, but he couldn’t find any trace of Tom. He and Aunt Sally sat at the table thinking. They didn’t eat anything and their coffee got cold. Neither of them said anything, and both looked pretty sad. Soon the old man said:
“Did I give you the letter?” “Did I give you the letter?”
“What letter?” “What letter?”
“The one I got yesterday out of the post-office.” “The one I got yesterday out of the post office.”
“No, you didn’t give me no letter.” “No, you didn’t give me a letter.”
“Well, I must a forgot it.” “Well, I must have forgot it.”
So he rummaged his pockets, and then went off somewheres where he had laid it down, and fetched it, and give it to her. She says: He rummaged around in his pockets, then went over to where he’d set it down. He brought it back and gave it to her. She said:
“Why, it’s from St. Petersburg—it’s from Sis.” “Why, it’s from St. Petersburg—it’s from Sis.”
I allowed another walk would do me good; but I couldn’t stir. But before she could break it open she dropped it and run—for she see something. And so did I. It was Tom Sawyer on a mattress; and that old doctor; and Jim, in HER calico dress, with his hands tied behind him; and a lot of people. I hid the letter behind the first thing that come handy, and rushed. She flung herself at Tom, crying, and says: I figured another walk would do me some good, but I couldn’t move. Before she could open the letter, she dropped it and started running because she’d seen something. And so had I. It was Tom Sawyer being carried on a mattress, the old doctor, and Jim—still wearing the calico dress—with his hands tied behind his back. There were a lot of other people too. I hid the letter behind the most convenient thing, and rushed outside. Aunt Sally was crying, and she flung herself at tom, saying:
“Oh, he’s dead, he’s dead, I know he’s dead!” “Oh he’s dead, he’s dead! I know he’s dead!”
And Tom he turned his head a little, and muttered something or other, which showed he warn’t in his right mind; then she flung up her hands, and says: Tom turned his head a little and muttered something, which told me he wasn’t in his right mind. Then she threw up her hands and said:
“He’s alive, thank God! And that’s enough!” and she snatched a kiss of him, and flew for the house to get the bed ready, and scattering orders right and left at the niggers and everybody else, as fast as her tongue could go, every jump of the way. “Thank God, he’s alive! That’s all I need!” She kissed him and ran back into the house to get a bed ready for him. Every step of the way she was shouting orders right and left at the n------ and everyone else as fast as her tongue would go.
I followed the men to see what they was going to do with Jim; and the old doctor and Uncle Silas followed after Tom into the house. The men was very huffy, and some of them wanted to hang Jim for an example to all the other niggers around there, so they wouldn’t be trying to run away like Jim done, and making such a raft of trouble, and keeping a whole family scared most to death for days and nights. But the others said, don’t do it, it wouldn’t answer at all; he ain’t our nigger, and his owner would turn up and make us pay for him, sure. So that cooled them down a little, because the people that’s always the most anxious for to hang a nigger that hain’t done just right is always the very ones that ain’t the most anxious to pay for him when they’ve got their satisfaction out of him. I followed the men to see what they were going to do with Jim. The old doctor and Uncle Silas followed after Tom into the house. The men were in a bad mood. Some of them wanted to hang Jim to make an example out of him so that other n------ wouldn’t try to make any trouble by scaring the family like that or running away like he’d tried to do. Some of the other men didn’t want to do that, though. They said he wasn’t our n----- and that his owner would turn up and surely make us pay for him. That cooled them down a little, because the people who are most anxious to hang a n----- are the same ones that are the least anxious to pay for him after they’ve had their way with him.
They cussed Jim considerble, though, and give him a cuff or two side the head once in a while, but Jim never said nothing, and he never let on to know me, and they took him to the same cabin, and put his own clothes on him, and chained him again, and not to no bed-leg this time, but to a big staple drove into the bottom log, and chained his hands, too, and both legs, and said he warn’t to have nothing but bread and water to eat after this till his owner come, or he was sold at auction because he didn’t come in a certain length of time, and filled up our hole, and said a couple of farmers with guns must stand watch around about the cabin every night, and a bulldog tied to the door in the daytime; and about this time they was through with the job and was tapering off with a kind of generl good-bye cussing, and then the old doctor comes and takes a look, and says: They swore at Jim a lot, though, and hit him in the head every once in a while. Jim never said anything, and he never let on that he knew me. They took him back to the same cabin, put his own clothes on him, and chained him up again, though this time to a big staple in one of the lower logs instead of to the bed leg. They chained his hands and both legs and said he wasn’t allowed to have anything but bread and water until his owner came or he was sold at auction if the owner didn’t come soon enough. They filled up our hole, and said that a couple of farmers armed with guns must always stand watch around the cabin every night. They would tie a bulldog to the door in the daytime. By that time, they were pretty much through with their business and started to leave with a last little bit of swearing. Then the doctor came over and took a look. He said:
“Don’t be no rougher on him than you’re obleeged to, because he ain’t a bad nigger. When I got to where I found the boy I see I couldn’t cut the bullet out without some help, and he warn’t in no condition for me to leave to go and get help; and he got a little worse and a little worse, and after a long time he went out of his head, and wouldn’t let me come a-nigh him any more, and said if I chalked his raft he’d kill me, and no end of wild foolishness like that, and I see I couldn’t do anything at all with him; so I says, I got to have HELP somehow; and the minute I says it out crawls this nigger from somewheres and says he’ll help, and he done it, too, and done it very well. Of course I judged he must be a runaway nigger, and there I WAS! and there I had to stick right straight along all the rest of the day and all night. It was a fix, I tell you! I had a couple of patients with the chills, and of course I’d of liked to run up to town and see them, but I dasn’t, because the nigger might get away, and then I’d be to blame; and yet never a skiff come close enough for me to hail. So there I had to stick plumb until daylight this morning; and I never see a nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuller, and yet he was risking his freedom to do it, and was all tired out, too, and I see plain enough he’d been worked main hard lately. I liked the nigger for that; I tell you, gentlemen, a nigger like that is worth a thousand dollars—and kind treatment, too. I had everything I needed, and the boy was doing as well there as he would a done at home—better, maybe, because it was so quiet; but there I WAS, with both of ’m on my hands, and there I had to stick till about dawn this morning; then some men in a skiff come by, and as good luck would have it the nigger was setting by the pallet with his head propped on his knees sound asleep; so I motioned them in quiet, and they slipped up on him and grabbed him and tied him before he knowed what he was about, and we never had no trouble. And the boy being in a kind of a flighty sleep, too, we muffled the oars and hitched the raft on, and towed her over very nice and quiet, and the nigger never made the least row nor said a word from the start. He ain’t no bad nigger, gentlemen; that’s what I think about him.” “Don’t be any rougher with him than you have to, because he’s not a bad n-----. When I got to the boy, I saw that I couldn’t cut the bullet out without some help, and the boy wasn’t in any condition for me to just leave him to get help. He got worse and worse, and after awhile he started losing his mind and wouldn’t let me come near him. He said that he’d kill me if I drew chalk marks on his raft. He said all sorts of crazy things, and I saw that I couldn’t do anything at all for him, so I said I’ve GOT to get help of some kind. The minute I said it, this n----- crawls out from somewhere and says he’ll help, and he did. He did it very well. Of course, I figured he must be a runaway n----- and there I WAS. I had to just stay there for the rest of the day and night. I was in a fix, I tell you! I had a couple of patients with the chills, and I would have liked to have gone up and seen them, of course, but I couldn’t risk it because the n----- might run away, and then it would be all my fault. And yet, a skiff never came close enough for me to call for help. So there I was—I had to sit still until dawn this morning. But I never saw a n----- who was a better nurse or more faithful. He was exhausted and risking his freedom to help, and it was pretty clear that he’d been worked pretty hard lately. I liked him for that. I tell you, gentlemen, a n----- like him is worth a thousand dollars—and deserves kind treatment. I had everything I needed, and the boy was doing as well as he would have done had he been at home—better maybe, because it was so quiet. But there I WAS with both him and the n----- in my hands, and I had to just wait it out until dawn this morning. Then some men came by in a skiff, and I was lucky enough that the n----- was just sitting by the pallet with his head between his knees, fast asleep. I motioned the men to come over quietly, and they jumped him. They grabbed him and tied him up before he knew what was going on, and we didn’t have any trouble. Since the boy was in a fitful sleep, we muffled the oars, tied the raft to the skiff, and towed it back very quietly. The n----- didn’t make a fuss or put up a fight or even say a word during the whole thing. He isn’t a bad n-----, gentlemen—that’s what I think about him.”

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